A chipped tooth is very common and extremely inconvenient. The jagged edges of a chipped tooth can hurt your tongue, make it difficult to eat because you want to avoid chewing, and make you vulnerable to further tooth decay. Why did this happen?
What Makes You Susceptible to Chipped or Broken Teeth?
There are many things that can increase your chances of a broken tooth. These include:
This is probably the greatest risk factor for any dental emergency, from a tiny chip to a dislodged tooth. The outer covering of the tooth, the enamel, is very hard.
In fact, it is the toughest tissue in the entire body. It serves as an excellent shield for the interior of the tooth; which is filled with sensitive and soft tissues. When this enamel shield is compromised the tooth structure is weakened, allowing food particles and acids to get into the tooth.
This nefarious chemical is found almost everywhere; alcohol, sugary foods, drinks. and even indigestion introduce acid into the mouth where it can begin to affect the teeth. It is nearly impossible to escape.
There are lots of things that cause a dry mouth, from medical conditions to the medicines that treat them. Saliva is a very important part of cleansing acids and bacteria off of the teeth and out of the mouth.
When saliva producion is inhibited, the constant washing off of the teeth is halted. This allows food and acid to remain on the teeth and damage the enamel. Chewing gum can increase saliva production temporarily, but the problem persists.
Even if you try to avoid acids and have a comfortably wet mouth, your teeth can be damaged by certain kinds of injuries.
Car accidents and other similar events can cause trauma to teeth resulting in a chipped tooth, a split tooth, or even injury to the gum line; all of which can introduce bacteria and acid into the soft tissues of the teeth. These injuries might require extensive repair.
Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)
Grinding your teeth is another sure way to damage them. The pressure alone can cause pain, chipping, and cracking of the teeth.
The movement is actually a sleeping disorder and it damages the enamel of involved teeth. This damaged enamel can weaken the entire structure. resulting in a broken tooth.
As if we needed more reasons to dislike getting older, the fact is that over half of the people who suffer from a cracked tooth are age 50 or older.
As we age, our teeth get worn down over those years because of constant use, possible past repairs, and even past injuries. No matter the precautions we take, if we are lucky enough to reach the age of 50 or higher, life itself makes us more prone to a chipped or broken tooth.
Home Remedies for a Cracked, Broken or Chipped Tooth
As careful as you may have been, chipped and broken teeth can happen to anyone. Now that you have heard an unexpected crunching sound after biting into a hard candy or otherwise found that you have a chipped tooth, you are left with wondering what you can do in this situation and what you could have done to prevent it.
So when it happens, what should you do? Do you need a dentist immediately, or can you fix a broken tooth at home?
While you will eventually need to pursue the professional help of a dentist because any break in a tooth will require a permanent fix, there are things that you can do at home to ease the irritation and pain you are exoeriencing.
Cleaning the Area
As with sll injuries, as chipped or broken tooth requires that you clean the area. You should immediately rinse the injury with warm water or a saline solution.
It might be a good idea to floss between the affected teeth to make sure the area is clean. If you can find the broken piece from the chipped tooth, wrap it in a piece of wet gauze and bring it with you to the dentist in case it can simply be reattached.
For chipped tooth pain relief, you should apply pressure to stop any bleeding from the damaged tooth. In the mouth, a wet compress will be most comfortable. The use of a cold compress, either directly on the injury itself or on the outside of the cheek, will be helpful in reducing any swelling.
Often, broken teeth can result in severe pain. Over-the-counter pain relievers are absolutely okay to use for a cracked, chipped or broken tooth, depending on any other medications you are taking and considering possible drug interactions.
- Ibuprofen (such as Advil)
- Acetaminophen (such as Tylenol)
- Asprin (such as Bayer)
If over-the-counter medicati0ns are not your preference, the use of clove oil can be helpful. Because this oil has anti-inflammatory and numbing agents, it is well suited to addressing the pain associated with a broken or dislodged tooth.
Smoothing Sharp Edges
A jagged edge or a sharp edge can not only be irritating, but it can be painful against your tongue and cheek. It can even cause further injury to these soft tissues.
That is why it is important soften the feel of those edges before they increase the pain you are already experiencing. The best way to smooth a sharp edge while you are wating for your dentist appointment is by using dental wax.
Dental wax is often made from beeswax, paraffin wax, or caranuba wax. Since it is made to be used inside the mouth, it is nontoxic and safe if it is accidentally swallowed. This wax can be molded over the affected tooth, smoothing the area and protecting the exposed section of the structure.
You can easily find this product over the counter at most pharmacies. Again, this is not a permanent solution, but it will tide you over until you can get professional treatment from a licensed dentist.
Now that you have tried to deal with your broken tooth at home and have exhausted all of the home remedies at your disposal, what should you do? Will this require treatment?
Permanent tooth repair is necessary and can only be provided by a licensed dentist. This professional will be able to assess the extent of the damage and create an appropriate treatment plan for the tooth repair that must follow.
Depending entirely on the severity of the break, there are many different ways that a broken, cracked, or chipped tooth might be repaired. Here are a few of the ways that a dentist might fix a broken tooth:
While it is not common, it might be possible for the dentist to simply reattach the broken tooth material. This is why it is important to save any bit of tooth you find that may have chipped off. This is done by simply cleaning the area and cementing the chipped piece back onto the tooth.
The cracked tooth is likely something that can be filled or repaired using a tooth colored composite resin, and it is a fairly simple professional treatment. The procedure might require minor drilling to etch the tooth's enamel and then the resin will be attached to seal the crack. This tooth repair is quick and the color of the resin matches the original tooth, making it visually undetectable.
Dental bonding is much like a filling, only it is focused on the appearance of the tooth. A filling is used to improve the compromised structure of a tooth while bonding is used to improve the look of the tooth. Using the same resin material as is used for a filling, a dentist can improve the shape and size of a tooth to make it more asthetically pleasing.
If a large piece has broken off of the tooth, a more extensive repair is required and a crown (or a cap) is used to recreate the tooth. A crown is placed over the remaining tooth piece and is cemented in place to give strength and shape to the damaged structure.
Though it is the among the most feared dental treatments, sometimes the whole tooth breaks or there are very deep cracks and the only way to keep from tooth loss is to have a root canal.
A chipped tooth might be a minor problem, but if it is left untreated, the inside of the tooth can get infected and lead your dentist to recommend this tooth repair. A root canal involves cleaning out the inside of the tooth and filling it with a solution, then capping what is left of the tooth with a crown. T
his dental treatment is done with anesthesia of some sort, depending on the tooth itself and the patient who will undergo the procedure. The crown and interior of the tooth are strong and will look and function totally naturally inside the mouth.
At a Glance
There are ways to avoid a cracked, chipped or broken tooth. Staying away from tooth decay (caused by acids and dry mouth) is the best way to keep your teeth healthy and strong. But unavoidable occurrences, such as injuries and aging, can make it easier for teeth to break.
If you have a chipped tooth, cracked tooth, or otherwise broken tooth there are things you can do at home to alleviate the discomfort you feel.
You must first rinse your mouth out with warm water or a saline solution, apply cold compresses to reduce swelling, you can use dental wax to smooth out a jagged edge, and utilize over-the-counter pain relief medications if needed. Once you've exhausted these home remedies, it is time to seek professional help (from someone practicing dentistry) to address the damaged tooth.
This dentist might recommend one of several types of treatments. If the chip is small enough, the dentist might just cement the broken piece back onto the tooth.
For bigger cracks or breaks, a tooth-colored comp0site resin filling might be best. To reshape the tooth, it might need dental bonding. For more extensive repairs, a root canal might be the best course of action. The appropriate tooth repair can only be determined by a dentist.
The Bottom Line
Your oral health is very important to your overall quality of life. A chipped tooth can really inhibit the way you live your life because it will impede your ability to eat, your ability to drink, and even your ability to talk. While home remedies might help alleviate pain and discomfort, you will need to seek professional help from a dentist to get a permanent repair for broken teeth.